It’s a little guy, but it should provide us with new information on our only natural satellite.by Robert Moore, on
Considering the Moon is our only natural satellite, and is relatively close to our home planet, it still seems a little odd that only a few people have ever set foot on that big ball of rock that smiles back at us on a clear night. To put things into perspective, the last time any human (that we know of) has stepped foot on the moon was back in 1972 when Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt spent just over three days there. Since then, we haven’t been back. As someone who has a heavy interest in other planets and the cosmos itself, I was pretty excited when Audi announced its lunar rover project last year. And, while it was an exciting idea, it didn’t seem like anything would ever come from it. But, all that has changed and Audi is set to send its Quattro Rover to the moon, and it looks like it will happen by the end of next year!
To fill you in on a little background, the Lunar Quattro tips the scales at just 66 pounds and uses a mix of lightweight materials and aluminum 3D printing. It was developed by Audi and a group called Part-Time Scientists. As any Audi fan would expect, its power source is derived from Audi’s E-Tron battery technology. Unfortunately, we don’t know any specifics as far as range, top speed, or anything of that nature, but it is fitted with a solar panel that covers a good majority of its upper surface, so the Lunar Quattro shouldn’t have a problem getting juice from our life-giving star. While the mission will help expand our knowledge of the moon and its terrain – and maybe even lead to future missions and an eventual colonization – there’s also a secondary motive behind this Rover.
See, Audi’s biggest motivation is probably the $30 million prize that it could very well claim from the Google Lunar XPRIZE program. The program promised the prize to the first privately funded rover to land on the moon, drive 500 meters, and send images back to our lovely planet. And, while the Moon isn’t exactly the harshest environment in our solar system, it will give Audi the unique opportunity to test some of its technology in much harsher conditions than those found here on Earth. To put that into perspective, the moon can hit as high as 253 degrees in the daylight, while the dark side of the moon can reach as low as negative 243 degrees. As you can imagine, the Quattro Rover has its work cut out for it with those kinds of temperatures.
But, before I go off on some rant about our solar system and get too far off topic, take a look at the video Audi released that shows off the Quattro Rover and explains why it is such an important mission.